The American Civil War began on April 12th, 1861 when the confederate army fired on a Union vessel coming to re-supply the brigade, Fort Sumter, outside of Charleston harbor, South Carolina. A few months before, on December 20 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union, following Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas to form the Union of Confederate States in an effort to preserve state’s rights. South Carolina’s reasoning’s were stated, “those states which have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes, and incited those who remain to servile insurrection” and violations of the Constitution by passing personal liberty laws. President Abraham Lincoln declared war on the Confederate to preserve the Union and reunite the north and the south. Initially, African American men were prohibited from joining either side or participating in the war. Nevertheless, in the midst of the activity many black families escaped to freedom behind Union lines.
The Voices of the Civil War is a five-year film series dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the Civil War over the course of the sesquicentennial. Each month, new episodes of the Voices of the Civil War will cover pertinent topics that follow the monthly events and issues as they unfolded for African Americans 150 years ago.
Top Image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-pga-01841]
Bottom Image: Clements Library of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor